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Gig Bags and Beyond

Updated on May 28, 2009

What your band needs to bring to every show

So, you have a gig and are ready to hit the road. Are you sure you have everything you need? In any live production, the rule to live by is something will go wrong and whatever it is will be something you thought could never possibly happen.

Whatever "it" is will happen and you will need to fix it or at least have an amazing back up plan. Otherwise, your whole set could be blown, you could be dropped from that venue forever, and lose some important fans. The saddest part of all of that is, you may have been just fine if you would've spent a few minutes making sure you had enough essentials to cover just about every problem imaginable.

From my experience these have been some of the most important, yet least remembered items:

  • Duck Tape. Duck Tape can fix the whole world. It even comes in a variety of cool colors. Never leave home without it.
  • A small tool kit. Make sure it includes needle nose pliers. Hands down the most requested tool I've heard of so far.
  • A flashlight, or two, or more. Nothing sucks more than trying to hook up equipment on a dark stage.
  • Extra batteries. Lots of extra batteries. Nine volts for your foot pedals and whatever other batteries you use, including your flashlight and rack mount stuff.
  • A small first aid kit. Make sure it has Excedrin or some other pain reliever and an antacid. I've trolled the streets of New York at an ungodly time of the evening trying to find these small incidentals before a show and it sucked. Make sure you don't have to do that.
  • Throat Coat or Vocal Eze throat spray. You don't want your singer throwing the show from a scratchy throat. You can find these online or at most health food stores. Keep this on hand at all times.
  • A sharpie and extra paper. If you have to change your set list at the last minute, you'll be happy you have these.
  • Extra picks and sticks. Nothing more needs said here.
  • Guitar Strings and tuner. Pre-stretch the strings so they'll stay in tune longer if they have to be used in the middle of your set.
  • Extra Cords. Especially a hard cord for wireless guitars. Wireless doesn't work too well if there is interference, even from airplanes. So, use it if you dare, but be prepared with a back up plan.
  • A good power strip with a surge protector. Bar/Neon lights in particular will wreak havoc with your gear, so make sure you have this and some extension cords as well.
  • Hush or Noise Gates for noisy amps. Gear should be dead silent when they aren't in actual use and it annoys the crowd to hear a lot of static. Don't annoy your crowd.
  • If you have the resources, pack an extra snare and extra axes. The snare is the most likely piece of equipment to break and the show can't go on very well without that. If a string breaks, it's easier to switch out to an all ready tuned guitar than it is to switch strings mid-set. If you do have to switch strings, have a backup plan to keep the show rolling. Sing without the guitars, do drum solos, juggle, whatever will entertain your crowd, be ready to go with that. If you don't have the resources, work on having them so you are ready if and when this happens.
  • Some extra cash just in case. Most bands do not like to loan equipment to another band, but they'll sometimes be bribed! Plus it's just good to have for those moments that seem to occur without prior notice.
  • For a very interesting back up plan, bring an acoustic guitar. The fuses kept blowing during a particular show and the band ended the last half of their set acoustically. They were heroes and became legendary for their forethought.

I'm sure you'll have a million other things you'll need for your show to make it worth the cover charge/ticket price people are going to pay. So, set a band meeting to get started on your own gig list and make sure you have it all together, you never know when a last minute opportunity might present itself and you just might be happy that you were well prepared.


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